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  • joint tax return question

    I live in California and this is my first tax season since I re-married. My new husband has some unpaid tax issues from his previous marriage. If we file a joint tax return this year, will it make me a party of his previous issues?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Brenda
    I live in California and this is my first tax season since I re-married. My new husband has some unpaid tax issues from his previous marriage. If we file a joint tax return this year, will it make me a party of his previous issues?
    You should not be liable for your husband's previous tax liability as long as it was incurred prior to your marriage. Filing a joint return this year should only make you liable for the current year's taxes. However, it's always a good idea to check with a Tax Advisor if you're unsure.

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    • #3
      Tax laws

      IRS Publication 504 (2003) states:

      Divorced taxpayers. If you are divorced, you are still jointly and individually responsible for any tax, interest, and penalties due on a joint return for a tax year ending before your divorce. This responsibility applies even if your divorce decree states that your former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns.
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      Your husband may be eligible for one of the following provisions, but only if the tax information was incorrectly reported on a previous return.

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      Relief from joint liability. In some cases, a spouse will be relieved of the tax, interest, and penalties on a joint return. You can ask for relief no matter how small the liability.


      There are three types of relief available.
      1. Separation of liability, which may apply to joint filers who are divorced, widowed, legally separated, or have not lived together for the past 12 months.
      2. Innocent spouse relief, which may apply to all joint filers.
      3. Equitable relief, which applies to all joint filers.



      Innocent spouse relief and separation of liability apply only to items incorrectly reported on the return. If a spouse does not qualify for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability, the IRS may grant equitable relief.


      Each of these kinds of relief is different, and they each have different requirements. You must file Form 8857 to request any of these kinds of relief. Publication 971 explains these kinds of relief and who may qualify for them. You can also find information on our website at www.irs.gov.
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      California is a community property state, but since this occurred before your marriage you should not be held liable. Consult a tax advisor or tax attorney for specific information.

      You can also view IRS Pub 504 here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p504/ar02.html

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